While on vacation last week, I saw a sign at the airport for a “Family Restroom.” It was a private room, not a stall, with sink and changing table included. Nice idea. The sign, however, was clearly meant to portray an opposite-sex couple and their children. (My later reconstruction to the right; at the time, my camera was packed so I couldn’t snap the real thing.)
This seems like yet another reinforcement of the “traditional family” configuration. I got to thinking, though: What exactly would a more inclusive sign look like? Would it be so bad just to imagine these were two moms, one in pants and one in a skirt? Would it defeat the purpose of an understandable sign to show an opposite-sex couple, a lesbian couple (two skirted figures), and a gay male couple (two figures in pants), plus kids? That would be pretty cluttered. What about single parents? Maybe this should be one case where we go with the majority representation, for simplicity’s sake. Or will this send the wrong message to our kids? And regardless of sexual orientation, is it a bit old fashioned to show the woman in a skirt? Would putting her in pants, but giving her hips and a busom, be any better? How would this affect the little girl icon? Should we do away with the icons altogether?
Thoughts from you, readers, especially those with backgrounds in graphic design? Send me your images, and I’ll post them. How can such a sign be straightforward without being, well, straight forward?